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Man arrested, charged with murder in case of Vancouver missing women

GREG JOYCE
Canadian Press

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Robert William Pickton

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) - A man has been arrested and charged in the case of 50 women missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside. RCMP said Friday night that Robert William Pickton has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Pickton, 53, is one of two brothers who own a pig farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam that police have been searching in the case since Feb. 6. "We believe we now have answers regarding the disappearance of two of the missing women but this is a case involving 50 missing women," RCMP Const. Catherine Galliford told a news conference at the farm Friday night about six hours after Pickton was arrested.

Please see below for:

A list of the missing women

Chronology of the case

"There are a lot of questions still unanswered," she said. "We will not rest until those answers are found."

Galliford said the names of the two victims in the charges would not be released until Monday "out of respect for the families."

She said Pickton was arrested Friday afternoon at his place of business and will appear in provincial court in Port Coquitlam on Monday.

"Our methods and our evidence will now be assessed and tested in a court of law," Vancouver Det. Scott Driemel told the news conference, held in a large tent that sheltered the media from a driving rain storm.

The tent was set up in a corner of an adjacent store parking lot, set up shortly after the search began and overlooks the entrance to the ramshackle farm, now almost completely surrounded by commercial developments and townhouses.

Driemel said that because charges have been laid, police won't be able to comment on their investigation or evidence.

Galliford and Driemel said the investigation will continue and police expect to spend several more months searching the farm.

Driemel said it is still very early in the investigation.

"It's been a long uphill battle, a difficult situation to be around people who have been hurting for so long," he said.

Galliford would not say if any remains have been recovered.

The arrest "made a lot of investigators feel really good but there are still thousands of tips to follow up on," she said.

The missing women's police joint task force spoke to some of the families of missing women earlier Friday but gave them little information.

Galliford repeated that there are "still hundreds of potential suspects."

Driemel would not comment on whether DNA samples that police have gathered over the last several weeks had led to the charges.

"A lot of evidence we recovered led the charges," he said.

Rick Frey, whose daughter Marnie was listed as missing in August 1997, said news of the arrest came as a relief.

"This is what we wanted, what we're looking for," Frey said in a telephone interview from his Campbell River, B.C., home.

"For us it's been four-and-a-half years so it's good news to us."

Frey, who did not say if Pickton was charged in his daughter's disappearance, said he knew it was only a matter of time before someone was charged in the missing women cases.

But there are 50 women missing, he said.

"I don't know that all the families will be satisfied," he said.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is among the missing, attended the news conference.

He said he does not know if either charge relates to his sister.

"I'll have to wait until Monday to find out more about the charges," he said. "It's obvious the investigation is picking up.

"I'm pleased to hear that two charges have been laid."

Crey also encouraged people to keep providing tips to investigators.

Here is the list of 50 women who have disappeared from

Vancouver's downtown eastside since the early 1980s, along

with the date they were last seen:

1. Rebecca Guno - June 1983

2. Sherry Rail - January 1984.

3. Leigh Miner - December 1993.

4. Laura Mah - sometime in 1985.

5. Elaine Allenbach - March 1986.

6. Teressa Williams - July 1988.

7. Ingrid Soet - August 1989.

8. Nancy Clark aka Nancy Greek - sometime in 1991.

9. Kathleen Wattley - June 1992.

10. Elsie Sebastien - sometime in 1992.

11. Angela Arseneault - sometime in 1994.

12. Catherine Gonzalez - March 1995.

13. Catherine Knight - April 1995.

14. Dorothy Spence - August 1995.

15. Diana Melnick - December 1995.

16. Tanya Holyk -October 1996.

17. Olivia Williams - December 1996.

18. Frances Young - sometime in 1996.

19. Stephanie Lane - January 1997.

20. Helen Hallmark - June 1997.

21. Janet Henry - June 1997.

22. Marnie Frey -August 1997.

23. Jacqueline Murdock - August 1997.

24. Cindy Beck - September 1997.

25. Andrea Borhaven - sometime in 1997.

26. Sherry Irving - sometime in 1997.

27. Cindy Feliks - sometime in 1997.

28. Kerry Koski - January 1998.

29. Inga Hall - February 1998.

30. Sarah deVries - April 1998.

31. Elaine Dumba - Apri 1998.

32. Sheila Egan - July 1998.

33. Julie Young - October 1998.

34. Angela Jardine - November 1998.

35. Marcella Creison - December 1998.

36. Michelle Gurney - December 1998.

37. Jacqueline McDonell - January 1999.

38. Georgina Papin - sometime in 1999.

39. Brenda Wolfe - sometime in 1999.

40. Wendy Crawford - sometime in 1999.

41. Jennifer Furminger - sometime in 1999.

42. Dawn Crey - sometime in 2000.

43. Debra Jones - sometime in 2000.

44. Patricia Johnson - March 2001.

45. Heather Bottomley - April 2001.

46. Heather Chinnock - April 2001.

47. Angela Josebury - June 2001.

48. Serena Abbotsway - August 2001.

49. Diane Rock - October 2001.

50. Mona Wilson - November 2001.

Some key dates in the case of 50 women missing from

Vancouver's downtown eastside:

June 1983: Rebecca Guno, a drug addict and prostitute, disappears from downtown eastside, the first name on the list.

1991: Relatives of growing list of missing women, along with advocates for sex-trade workers, establish annual Valentine's Day remembrance, press for tougher police investigation.

September 1998: Vancouver police set up team to review files of up to 40 women missing as far back as 1971. One tracked down, deaths of two others from illness, overdose, confirmed but no trace of many others.

April 1999: Vancouver police board posts $100,000 reward for information in missing-women case.

September 2001: Vancouver police and RCMP form joint task force to replace Vancouver's stalled investigation.

December 2001: Task force investigators travel to Seattle to interview Gary Ridgeway, charged in four of 49 Green River homicides in Washington state.

January 2002: Task force adds five names to list, bringing total number of women missing to 50.

Feb. 5: RCMP officers, accompanied by missing-women task force members, enter pig farm in suburban Port Coquitlam on firearms warrant.

Feb. 6: Task force officers use their own warrant to begin searching pig farm for clues in missing-women case.

Feb. 7: Robert Pickton, one two brothers who own pig farm, charged with weapons offences as search of property continued.

Feb. 22: Robert Pickton charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

 Copyright  2002 The Canadian Press

Missing women search expands to farmhouse-Feb 17, 2002

Police make arrest in Vancouver missing women case

Canadian Press

Friday, February 22, 2002

Port Coquitlam Pig farm 

Port Coquitlam. B.C. A man has been arrested and charged in the case of 50 women missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside.

RCMP said Friday night that Robert William Pickton has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Pickton, 53, is one of two brothers who own a pig farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam that police have been searching in the case since Feb. 6.

"We believe we now have answers regarding the disappearance of two of the missing women but this is a case involving 50 missing women," RCMP Constable Catherine Galliford told a news conference at the farm Friday night.

"There are a lot of questions still unanswered," she said. "We will not rest until those answers are found."

Constable Galliford said the names of the two victims in the charges would not be released until Monday "out of respect for the families."

She said Mr. Pickton was arrested Friday at his place of business.

Mr. Pickton will appear in provincial court in Port Coquitlam on Monday.

Contable Galliford and Vancouver Detective Scott Driemel said the investigation will continue and police expect to spend several more months searching the farm.

Det. Driemel said it is still very early in the investigation.

Constable Galliford would not say if any remains have been recovered.

The missing women's police joint task force spoke to some of the families of missing women earlier Friday but gave them little information.

Constable Galliford repeated that there are "still hundreds of potential suspects."

Det. Driemel would not comment on whether DNA samples that police have gathered over the last several weeks had led to the charges.

"A lot of evidence we recovered led the charges," he said.

 

Pig farmer charged in missing women case

Probe `not over,' police say after arrest on 2 murder counts

Daniel Girard
WESTERN CANADA BUREAU

VANCOUVER Police have charged a Vancouver-area pig farmer with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the case of 50 women missing from the city's drug-plagued downtown eastside.

Robert William Pickton, 52, was arrested "quickly and peacefully" yesterday afternoon at his Lower Mainland workplace and charged, RCMP Constable Cate Galliford told a late night news conference.

"We believe we now have answers regarding the disappearance of two of the missing women," Galliford said. "But this is a case involving 50 missing women.

"There are a lot of questions still unanswered," she said. "We will not rest until those answers are found. And let me make this very clear to all of you: the investigation into the missing women is not over."

Pickton, who is one of three owners of the pig farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam that has been the subject of an intense police search for more than two weeks, is being held in custody. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Police would not provide details of what evidence led them to lay the charges in the deaths of the two women but they did say it was obtained at the farm.

Police also refused to identify the victims, who are among 50 women mainly drug addicts and prostitutes who have disappeared from Vancouver's downtown eastside, one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods, as far back as 1983.

"This is a time for family grieving and for the families and friends to reconcile what is happening," Galliford said. "We will release the names of the victims on Monday."

Police said they still have hundreds of suspects in the disappearance of the remaining women. They are also following up thousands of tips that they have received recently.

The search of the four-hectare farm about 35 kilometres east of Vancouver will likely continue for many months, Galliford said. But she said police felt they had enough evidence yesterday to move ahead with an arrest of Pickton.

The farm is littered with abandoned vehicles, derelict buildings, excavating equipment and other machinery, including a wood chipper. Recent heavy rains have made it a swampy mud bog.

"We have science, expertise and time on our side," Galliford said. "This is not a search for a needle in a haystack.

"It is a precise and highly integrated police investigation involving real people who are missing," she said. "People with friends family and loved ones."

Last week, police said they found traces of DNA in a trailer located on the farm. It was reportedly used by Pickton as both an office and a residence.

Police asked for members of the public who had been in the trailer to come forward to police to provide their own DNA. Nearly three dozen complied within days.

Family members, who were told earlier yesterday that charges were to be made public at a late-night news conference at the police compound near the pig farm were relieved by the apparent break in the case.

"It's what we've been waiting for," said Rick Frey, whose daughter Marnie went missing from the downtown eastside in August, 1997. She was 24 at that time.

"I don't know if she's one of the people but it's better than not having anything happen all this time," Frey said in an interview last night from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. "It's been 4  1/2 long hard years for us so this is going to help us a lot."

"It's been a long time coming," said Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn went missing in late 2000. She was a 43-year-old addict and prostitute.

"This represents the first significant step forward in this investigation and it may help us find out what has become of Dawn," Crey said in an interview.

"All other families are, I'm sure, feeling the same way we are."

The case has been marked by controversy and allegations of police disinterest in women on the fringes of society. While family members and friends insisted a serial killer might be at work, authorities said without a body or a crime scene they had no case.

For a few years, police said that, given the transient lifestyle of drug addicts and prostitutes, the women may have just simply left the city.

But following continued pressure from family and friends, Vancouver police finally established a task force in 1998 looking for possible links between the women.

A segment on the television show America's Most Wanted also led to a reward of $100,000 in April, 1999, for information leading to an arrest in the case.

By 2000, the task force was scaled back but a year later a joint Vancouver police-RCMP unit was created. It expanded to 30 investigators last month. Between 12 and 40 investigators remain on the site daily with another few dozen following up the myriad of tips that have been received since the farm search began.

Pickton was charged earlier this month with firearms offences after police with a search warrant entered the farmhouse on the property. Police later obtained a second warrant that covered the entire property. They would not disclose what they discovered but news reports said authorities found identification of at least two women.

Police search farm for missing Vancouver women-Feb 7, 2002

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016